Using biological traits to explain ladybird distribution patterns

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Comont, R. F., Roy, H. E., Lewis, O. T., Harrington, R., Shortall, C. R. and Purse, B. V. 2012. Using biological traits to explain ladybird distribution patterns. Journal of Biogeography. 39 (10), pp. 1772-1781.

AuthorsComont, R. F., Roy, H. E., Lewis, O. T., Harrington, R., Shortall, C. R. and Purse, B. V.

Aim Determining to what extent differing distribution patterns are governed by species life-history and resource-use traits may lead to an improved understanding of the impacts of environmental change on biodiversity. We investigated the extent to which traits can explain distribution patterns in the ladybird fauna (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) of Great Britain. Location The British mainland and inshore islands (Anglesey, the Isle of Wight and the Inner Hebrides). Methods The distributions of 26 ladybird species resident in Britain were characterized in terms of their range size (from 2661 10-km grid squares across Britain) and proportional range fill (at 10- and 50-km scales). These were assessed relative to five traits (body length, elytral colour pattern polymorphism, voltinism, habitat specificity and diet breadth). The role of phylogenetic autocorrelation was examined by comparing the results of phylogenetic and generalized least-squares regressions. Results Diet breadth was the only trait correlated with range size: species with broad diets had larger range sizes than dietary specialists. Range fill was sensitive to recording intensity (a per-species measure of the mean number of records across occupied squares); models including both recording intensity and range size provided more explanatory power than models incorporating ecological traits alone. Main conclusions Habitat specificity is often invoked to explain the distribution patterns of species, but here we found diet breadth to be the only ecological correlate of both range fill and range size. This highlights the importance of understanding predatorprey interactions when attempting to explain the distribution patterns of predatory species. Our results suggest that the diet breadth of predatory species is a better correlate of range size and fill than other measures, such as habitat specificity.

KeywordsEcology; Geography, Physical
Year of Publication2012
JournalJournal of Biogeography
Journal citation39 (10), pp. 1772-1781
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Open accessPublished as non-open access
FunderNERC - Natural Environment Research Council - Centre for Ecology Hydrology - CEH
Joint Nature Conservation Committee - JNCC
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Lawes Agricultural Trust
Funder project or codeRothamsted Insect Survey [LAT 2001-2012]
Aphid ecology and population dynamics

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